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Scene Breakdown: Scars and Stories in Vikings: Valhalla’s “The Greenlanders”

Vikings: Valhalla “The Greenlanders” Spoilers Ahead

Harold and Freydis in Vikings Valhalla "The Greenlanders"
©Netflix

Netflix’s Vikings Valhalla doesn’t waste any time establishing the story’s romance, and we’re entirely here for it. It starts quickly, but it slows its pace with the kind of “hurt/comfort” that shows us both characters’ motives and hearts.

As a Pilot episode, “The Greenlanders” does a solid job of showcasing character arcs while carefully pointing out the thematic importance of religion as the show’s internal and external conflict. Thus, in doing so, where romance is concerned, it allows us to see that what most fans will likely be rooting for are two people who shouldn’t be together. Two people where this world will root against because, at opposite ends of the Christian and Pagan war, nothing about their romance should work.

And yet, Vikings: Valhalla “The Greenlanders” almost promises otherwise. From their first meeting, we can see that Leo Suter‘s Harald Sigurdsson and Frida Gustavsson’s Freydís Eriksdotter are drawn to each other, and there’s something bigger here than a mere one-night-stand. It’s physical, first, but where scars and stories are explored, vulnerability unfolds right in front of us, and we could see beauty in the crooked parts of corruption that will likely lead to better circumstances.

When Harald moves the cross on his neck behind him, it’s not just an act to appeal empathetic to Freydís, but rather, it’s a symbolic representation of carrying her burden with every word she speaks. He doesn’t want her to see him as the enemy; he wants to be a second chance. He wants to be a light—the kind of Christian she won’t fear or be wary of.

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But more than anything, we see much of Harald’s courage in Vikings: Valhalla’s “The Greenlanders” because no part of him is hesitant to believe her. It’s immediate it. He sees the scars, hears her story, and immediately wants to help her find the person who’s harmed her. He falls quickly, and he falls hard, but something about the way he looks at Freydís differs from how he looks at others. While we don’t know much, we could see that the pull to her is unlike anything else, and he’s trying to hold on for dear life with his expressions alone.

Suter touches on Harald’s vulnerability with such reverence there’s no doubting his compassion. There’s no doubting his heart. There’s also something to be said about Freydís’ ease around him—she’s confident in her stance, but the moment where she dips her head in the water shows us that she’s willing to allow herself the stillness of being in a room with someone she knows won’t hurt her. Revenge is part of her story, and her past is one she needs to deal with, but this scene shows us that there’s a profound connection here that’s dependent on trust.

Despite the colossal barrier between them, Harald and Freydís are learning how to trust each other. They realize that there’s something between them worth exploring in this short time. We know that in the distance that comes in later episodes, there’s a profound longing that’s binding them—a form of love where they’re looking out for each other’s safety more than anything else, and it’s because of this exhibition of vulnerability at this moment.

She trusted him with her scars and her story. He trusted her with all that he could potentially give. It’s the beginning of something worthwhile, and though a brief scene, the unfolding that happens between them is a showcase of the compassion within.

Vikings: Valhalla is now streaming on Netflix.

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